A question of rights

The creative urges will sometimes come when they will.

Sometimes, like this morning, it’s at an ungodly hour (approximately 1.30am), with an insistent push that jolted me awake, a recurring thought/idea twirling through my mind determined to be heard.

This morning’s incident was relating to Talyësaarthien’s Declaration of Sentient Rights: a set of ideas I’ve been working on since first introducing them in Volume 1 – Book 1. I’ve bounced the concept around a little since then, unsure what to do with it, unclear on how to solidify it. I had the vaguest of ideas, drawing on memories of a List of Rights I’d received in a course decades ago, which has long since been lost somewhere. I have since found a few lists of a similar nature. Then there is of course the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst I had begun merging all these together many months ago, the last few weeks has seen the concept become a more persistent matter, demanding more of my attention. I think perhaps because of my growing focus on global politics, observing the increasing divergence of opposing forces, especially in the USA and the UK, but in many other countries also.

Strangely enough, I’m a lot less clear on Australian politics and what’s going on. Is that because it’s in some ways more personal?


I’m still undecided, though I do find myself continuously ambivalent concerning both major parties here, as well as the more peripheral entities/parties. The reason for that could be my own dismissiveness, as I find local politics less globally significant. Don’t say it! I know!! Not a good enough excuse! Grass roots and local is just as important!!!

But! As much as Australian politicians appear to revel in big-noting themselves and their importance in regional affairs, I’m inclined to consider our country a rather small fish (ignoring our landmass) in a rather large pond. We are, after all, surrounded by nations with far greater populations and superior economic clout. Yet our sense of self-worth, at least in the political arena, draws on our connections with our big brother, the USA, and our big sister, the UK, in a similar way to how a younger sibling might rely on the protection of much older siblings in a schoolyard. We don’t fully stand on our own two feet, because we don’t really know who we are without them. And dare I say, we lack the required humility that being truly independent might demand of us in dealing with our more immediate neighbours.

But I am digressing from my primary subject matter. And it is not my wish to make this post a long one, or a political one. Perhaps the larger political digression requires its own post someday. But not today.

So back to the Declaration of Sentient Rights.

The Rights, and my efforts to fine tune them, tie rather neatly with my own quest for understanding of what is fair to expect for all individuals across the globe, what I would consider fair to receive from everyone else, and what I should give of myself to others within any exchange.

It has been interesting reading the UN interpretation of this. I find myself not in agreement with all of it. Perhaps in days gone by I may have agreed a great deal more. Now, I look at them and find them a little more…socialist…in some of their leanings than I consider healthy for a more robust, and less authority dependent society. There are aspects to those Rights which require government intervention. As I interpret the document, there is no exception to this in certain cases.

And yet my mind looks back to older cultures, pre-industrialisation, or even contemporary tribal cultures, where the support structures were inbuilt to the fabric of the culture: for the elderly, for the disabled, for the disadvantaged, be that disadvantage temporary or permanent. Families, villages, communities, it seems to me, were far more likely to look after their own than we would necessarily consider doing nowadays. Society in many ways has become a great deal more selfish, more self-centred, more transactional than ever before. Especially in western cultures. We’ve witnessed the disintegration of the family unit, the absolving of responsibility toward the older generations, the focus on what we think is best for ourselves, often at the expense of others around us.

Were the outcomes at times more brutal in the past? Undoubtedly! The nature of existence back then was vastly different on many fronts. Decisions were more focused upon survival than is necessary today. Scarcity was a greater threat back then than we could ever expect to face in our modern world.

But is our modern abundance of resources making us more compassionate? Or more selfish?

Is it compassionate or selfish to maintain someone’s life on life-support?

Is it compassionate or selfish to expect our elders to live out their final days separated from family and friends in a nursing home?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to control so many aspects of our lives, from education, to work opportunities, to how we live, how we are permitted to express ourselves?

Is it compassionate or selfish for governments to create the opportunity for dependence upon social welfare structures by a growing number of individuals?

Having had a brother with profound and multiple disabilities, both physical and mental, I’ve explored both sides of this issue to some extent already. There were times I felt it was cruel that he should be supported to stay alive and be subjected to the will of others, be their intentions for good or ill, in residential care homes, with no way to exert his own will upon his life and what he experienced. Seeing him in an open ward arrangement during one stage of his life, which was so impersonal, where he experienced injuries and more through no fault of his own, there were times I thought he’d be better off dead. To me, that simply wasn’t living!

Yet, moving beyond that perspective, I was also able to see, at a deeper level, how his presence in our lives was an opportunity for us all to learn how to be more compassionate for the more vulnerable, and overcome our own selfish attitudes and behaviours for the sake of what might benefit those unable to even be selfish.

Modern life, with its somewhat socialist inclusions, derived from taxations and the welfare state, have provided support structures which may not have existed otherwise. Yet they’ve also made it easier for families to relinquish participation and responsibility for their own families, be they offspring, siblings or parents. I’ve seen that aspect of our modern world also. I’ve even seen it in my own thoughts and behaviours!

I do think something has been lost in our society since the advent of industrialisation, even if that loss has been gradual. It is a loss that has crept up on us in the guise of a supportive benefactor, yet has somehow dehumanised us in the subtlest of ways.

Cultures still rooted in older traditions have a greater sense of responsibility I feel, a greater connection to family, a greater desire to support, especially in times of need, than the more modern western civilisation I’m more familiar with and which increasingly permeates many parts of the globe. A large part of that stems, I believe, from faith and religion, though not from the perspective of dogma. I would suggest it is more from the perspective of morals and values that people of faith are more inclined to display.

With all these thoughts, all these considerations, for what is essentially a small aspect within a fictional work, I feel I may have produced more questions for myself than answers. Perhaps there are no specifically right or wrong answers to this process, at least not as regards my fictional work.

And perhaps I am simply lacking the courage to commit to the answers that feel right to me, to express my conclusions more emphatically out loud.

I have, I think, linked myself back to a previous blog referencing personal convictions and a fear of criticism or conflict. An interesting consideration. Learning is a circular process after all, where repetition helps deepen one’s understanding of the lesson(s) involved.

In the meantime, if it’s of interest, my own fictional Rights-in-progress can be found on the page below, with the UN declaration in the link below that.



When my ego gets the better of me

Funk v depression.

If all words are nothing more nor less than symbols open to subjective interpretation, does word choice matter?

I guess for me it does, hence I’ve chosen the word funk in this instance. I’m applying the word funk here because, as a term, it’s less harsh, less extreme than more modern connotations and assumptions I feel now surround the word depression. Not that I’m attempting to minimise the potential harm depression can cause or lead to. Certainly not. But I remember a time when the word, at least in my own mind, didn’t feel so much like a code red. Admittedly, that was a time when the code red options were often not identified until the situation was at a more critical level, or worse still, when it was too late. That does of course, still occur with way too much frequency.

I don’t have to look too far beyond my own doorstep to witness the struggle that others face every day and how it can become more than just a little overwhelming, stealing over one’s life incrementally until there appears to be no way to reach beyond it. There are enough reports online and off making it all too clear where these kinds of struggles can end up. Getting lost in that darkest of nights is not a state I’ve ever come close to, but I can imagine how few steps it might take to find oneself there. I’ve no doubt that for some individuals gripped by such a state of mind, where any and all efforts feel like too much, death can appear to have a most preferable allure to the task of finding a way through the quagmire of other options. Death can be the quiet exclamation that releases all the challenges, whilst life can be a procession of question marks with no end in sight.

Now, I’m writing this without any statistics to hand, so yes, I’m writing with a large degree of ignorance on the matter. I don’t know, for instance, whether depression is on the increase (though I assume it is) in real terms, whether the severity of depression is on the increase, or whether there is an over-diagnosis of it as a health issue. But I’m not here to disseminate statistical data, or critique the implications, accuracy or otherwise of such data. That’s not why I’m writing this.

My reason is a smidgen more self-focused than that. It’s no more, and no less, than me mapping out some of my journey in this life, divulging some of my experiences, and the thoughts that are springing from them.

So, for me, at least up to this point in life, I’ve never reached such a critical level, I’ve never been pulled into the depths of what I would consider to be a code red. Nor an amber for that matter. At least, not that I’ve noticed. Up to this point, my path hasn’t ever veered in that direction. For that I’m certainly grateful.

Life has gone on regardless of any internal struggle. I’ve still been able to bounce through each part of my day that has involved intermingling with others. My general routines have continued as normal. Any variations tend to be outwardly invisible, save for a perhaps more sombre tone when interacting with some people, a level of banter lacking the more standard pep, or, if you were to witness me at home, more prolonged staring at the computer screen without actually ‘doing’ anything, breaths more frequently interspaced with sighs.

There have been more dramatic moments over the years. There have been some very melodramatic moments as well. You know, those kind of moments akin to when your first crush dumps you, or you perhaps have a flood of self-pity at the notion that no one truly understands you. Totally soul-destroying in the moment. Generally more comic in retrospect.

Standing on the other side of such a moment always presents a better perspective.

I may have in the past week had a moment, yet it was no more and no less than that. A moment. But in the throws of such a moment, how to handle it? When that most conniving little ego – my ego – grabbed a hold, with its own devious mission to throw me off course, to wrest any semblance of control I might momentarily have believed I had over the multifarious aspects of myself, away from me, what could I do?!

Get centred in a sanctuary of inner peacefulness, love and grace?

“Sod that my friend! None of that for you!!”

At least, that’s how it expressed on an experiential level. Instead of any inner peace, there was a wall that I careened all too quickly into, a wall that appeared to curve around in one relentless sweep, like the walls at the bottom of some all too stark and dry well. What was in front was beside and behind. Looking up for the exit, it seemed all too far and out of focus. The switchboard controlling my emotional stability had been unexpectedly nabbed from my grasp, the switches flickering in unpredictable fashion.

Frustration. Anger. Confusion. Loneliness. All were jockeying for a good position, all keen on top spot, but happy enough in their own perverse manner to share the limelight, even if none of those states were externally visible.

Fortunately for me, I recognise there are distractions I have at my disposal which help to redirect my energy toward more positive streams, like movies, reading, my local cafe, the internet and more. In turn, not all my options are distractions. Some are reminders of what can be, redirections that help me realise that, at a deeper level, a more inspired level, none of these outward concerns are as real as the inner peace that comes from a reconnection to Source.

In this particular case I needed to simply be still. Still on the inside. Still on the outside. I needed to allow myself to be a human who was simply being, rather than a human doing, or a human striving to do. I had to put all the persistent thoughts, the to-do lists, the expectations, the criticisms, the hopes and fears aside. I had to relinquish all my beliefs that all this stuff, all this outward life-stuff, actually matters. All of that and more. Put it ALL aside. And simply be.

Now I’m not suggesting that I needed to relinquish any notion that I myself matter. Far from it. At a certain level I matter very much. Just not the ‘I’ that is tied to material things, to worldly things, to egoic things. The ‘I’ that matters is the level of my self that I only find in the stillness, the level of my self that knows what is best for me at a level where the outer me could never really know. Whether you choose to consider that level of self the Higher Self, the Holy Spirit, God, Source, or perhaps Divine Intelligence, I guess that’s up to you.

I don’t consider myself a religious person. The dogma attached to religion and the adherence to so many archaic perspectives borne from the need for structures and guidelines suited to a time long past, or the political manipulations of a time long gone, whilst fascinating, doesn’t sit well for me. That said, there is merit in some of what is written. And I do believe there is more to myself, to us all, than what we can perceive with our physical senses.

When I allow myself to reside in that stillness within, the guidance from that source comes through. Peace comes through. Happiness returns. Grace abides within. The darkness induced by ego recedes. And I am grateful. I can again see my life as a journey. One where I peel away the layers of negativity and confusion, of doubt and fear, of distraction and self-deception. One in which, by seeing passed all my own layers of deception, I can more easily see passed all of yours, and in so doing see the light that shines within.

We may all be shrouded by varying layers of darkness, some of which might lead to a funk, some to deeper depression, or any number of other challenges particular to our human condition, but we all have a purer light at our core. It’s not a light that comes decorated with sparkling distractions, nor strobe effects, nor sirens and trumpets, nor even effusive gaiety. It’s the warm glow of connection, the first rays of light breeching the darkness of a distant horizon on a still day, the feeling of being exactly where we belong.

And once again, for this moment in time at least, and hopefully for many more, I feel like I’m exactly where I belong.